I haven’t eaten in ten days. For the party I decided to be a Lost Boy. Not the Peter Pan version but the Keifer Sutherland, Coreys-Haim-and-Feldman version, because there’s this one guy in it with long, black hair like mine. He wears an open trench coat with nothing underneath. I don’t want to feel self-conscious so I skip meals until I feel okay in nothing but jeans, black boots, and a coat.
I spray and gel my hair into a mane. Every inch of exposed skin is Dead Guy Grey. My eyes look bruised and bleeding, my mouth is a wet, red maw surrounded by splits filled with shining blood that doesn’t run. I paid fifty bucks I couldn’t afford for a pair of vampire teeth, two little caps you put over your incisors with dental adhesive. Open Grave colors the hollows of my eyes, neck, and body, Tombstone highlights the swells. The makeup looks nothing like the guy from The Lost Boys but who cares? I look cool, scary as hell.
The party is three blocks from my apartment, at one of the houses at the base of the Hill that change tenants with every graduating class. Even this short walk turns my nipples into painful, chafing points, my nose into a runny mess. I walk faster to warm up, holding my coat together. I feel a little dizzy. I’ve been drinking Gatorade and V-8 all week but I guess I could use food.
The houses all look the same. One has cars all around it and music blaring and a bunch of lights on. Looking at it makes my heart pound. I wonder how many people I’ll actually know.
There’s a crowd on the front porch dressed as zombies in business suits. The porch cuts the wind but not the cold. These people must be drunk to be out here. I pass through them and they stare at my exposed skin and smile. I nod hellos and one of them says “hey.” I wonder if I’d recognize her without the makeup.
“Three bucks, man.” The guy sitting on a stool by the door. His breath smells like beer. He’s wearing a green tuxedo and a top hat.
Three bucks seems steep. He tells me it’s five without a costume so I pay him.
The living room is darker than it looks from the street. It’s hot and no one is dancing. They’re standing around shouting at each other to be heard over loud music I don’t recognize. Some of them look at my chest and stomach and I wonder what I was thinking. I carefully blot my nose on my sleeve so my makeup doesn’t smear. I watch a guy dressed as Beetlejuice and a girl dressed as Wonder Woman enthusiastically groping each other on the couch.
Laura is supposed to be here.
I see a bright doorway I assume is the kitchen. I further assume I’ll find copious amounts of alcohol there, so I make my way over.
“What’s up, man?” Scott is obviously drunk and dressed as a Mouseketeer. Some guys do this, use Halloween as an excuse to cross-dress and tell themselves it doesn’t mean anything. Scott is actually gay so it doesn’t matter that he's wearing a short, pleated skirt and a sweater pulled tight over falsies. “You look soooo scary.”
He slaps my arm. I ask if he’s seen Laura. He thinks maybe she’s by the keg out back. I say thanks and go past him to the kitchen. Delilah is there. This is Delilah’s house. She’s short and loud, with tremendous cleavage and a huge ass, looking like a scene from a porno in a French maid uniform.
“Oh my God, dude!” she screams at me. Everyone turns to look, their drunk eyes crawling over my body. The kitchen is really bright. I pull my coat closed, wishing I’d gotten here earlier so I could be drunk like them, but the makeup took a long time. “You look awesome.”
I thank Delilah. I tell her she looks hot. She’s looking at my hand on the coat, the veins popping white, the dark shadows, the long, filthy nails. She knocks my hand away, slinks an arm around my waist, and pitches her voice low.
“You can suck my blood anytime.”
She has a lot of flesh and it’s pushing against me.
I give her a smile, revealing my fangs. She squeals with delight and offers me a shot. I drink it and taste fake blood. I look at the kitchen counter and see liquor bottles everywhere. She tells me there’s beer in the fridge, a keg out back. I ask where Laura is but she doesn’t know. I thank her and fill my empty shot glass from one of the bottles on the counter. I taste fake blood so I try a different bottle. I still taste fake blood so I settle on a bottle of Southern Comfort and I fill my shot glass and drain it and fill it and drain it until I don’t taste fake blood anymore. There are plastic cups everywhere. No one bothers to find their beer once they put it down, they just get a new cup. It’s a mess. I pick through them and pour the ones that have cigarettes butts into the sink and I stack them up and the ones that have beer in them I drink - half full, a few swallows, mostly full - and I stack them up and I want to clear the counter of everything except liquor bottles but people keep setting plastic cups down and walking away so the work keeps piling up. I get a little carried away because a guy wearing a Boy Scout uniform comes in from the back porch and sets down a beer he just got so he can light a cigarette and I grab the beer and start to chug it. He gets pissed off and spills some on me grabbing it back.
Laura is supposed to be at this party but when I ask Boy Scout where she is he looks at me like I’m crazy so I laugh in his face and grab his shoulders and consider biting his neck but instead I push him aside and kick the screen door open and walk out and he calls me an asshole and I call him a bitch.
Laura stands by the keg, looking like Laugh In from the neck up and Girl Friday from the neck down but the boots are hot and the eye makeup is heavy so I sloppily drape myself over her shoulders and smear fake blood on her neck. She pushes me away and says cool it, Drunk Boy. She hands me her beer and asks a Zoot Suit gangster near the keg for a new one. I take a gulp and I’m looking at a girl who looks like Laura because she’s wearing a wig that’s almost exactly the same and her makeup is the same and her dress is white too but it has twigs and leaves and splots of color on it and when I ask what she is she says she’s a wood nymph. When Laura has her beer she turns around and her make up and hair are the same as Wood Nymph and it's like seeing double and it’s a little unnerving so I tell them I need to use the bathroom and I’ll be right back. Before I go I kiss the Wood Nymph, smearing fake blood on her lips. I taste nicotine and then my arm is being pulled and I’m looking at Laura dressed as a 60's chick and she’s laughing at me, calling me Drunk Boy.
I tell her I thought she quit smoking and for some reason this makes her laugh even harder and there’s a Wood Nymph next to her laughing and there are hands on my back, turning me around, pushing me forward.
Back in the kitchen Delilah is doing a keg stand. Eraserhead holds her on one side, Han Solo on the other. Delilah’s Spiderman boy-briefs don’t match her uniform. My shot glass is gone so I set my plastic cup on the counter and take a swig of Jack Daniel’s right from the bottle. It burns my throat so I take a swig of Frangelico and it tastes like hazelnut candy so I take the bottle into the dining room. The dining room is darker than the living room and louder because the stereo is there.
I can barely see but somehow there are people at the table playing cards because it doesn’t require talking and there’s a couple slow dancing because it doesn’t require talking and the music is fast and it beats in my body harder than my heart but the couple's swaying like they’re underwater kissing like they’re in love or at least ready for sex and the music has a weird beat and it’s making me feel strange. I take a pull of sweet liquid candy and scream at them that I’m a Lost Boy but the music is too loud for anyone to hear.
I grab the kissing guy by the shoulder and shake him and he looks at me and I tell him he’s not wearing a costume and he can’t hear me so he laughs and they walk away from me toward the stairs. I walk behind them, mesmerized by his hand on her ass, her hand on his hand, and I bump into someone in the dark. I mumble an apology and see a guy dressed in black with a small number on a button on his chest. He waves me off and I wander back into the living room.
Laura’s there dressed as a Wood Nymph making out with Pan on the love seat and my hands tighten on the neck of the bottle and I take a big pull and I walk toward them and Laura is wearing white go-go boots, talking to Scott, telling me she thought I was going to the bathroom. I scream at her, asking why that makes it okay for her to make out with Pan and I thought she was standing by the keg and she laughs at me again and cups my chin in her hand and points it toward the love seat and there’s Wood Nymph making out with Pan and I feel like an idiot. Laura tells me not to worry, Drunk Boy, just remember the boots and she points my chin at her feet and I try to nod but I can’t because she’s holding my chin and she tells me they came in because they got cold. People are staring at me again and I wonder how loud I was yelling and then I realize they’re not listening to me, they’re looking at the novelty of naked flesh in upstate New York in the fall and I wonder why the house is so hot and I drink some more hazelnut and ask where the bathroom is because I realize I actually need to use it. Laura points up the stairs and offers to take me and Scott offers to take me and I assure them I can make it.
The stairs are crowded with people sitting down talking to each other but mostly to their cell phones. It looks like a conference call with monsters and celebrities and college students. The stairs are moving slightly or else they were made at wrong angles so I have the banister in a death grip with one hand and the other hand keeps feeding me hazelnut and I can’t let go of the banister even if this guy in prison stripes won’t move so I accidentally on purpose step on his hand and he says hey so I tell him I’m sorry then I knock his cell phone down the stairs and he says hey! and I tell him to fetch and he does but he makes sure to call me an asshole first so I make sure to laugh at him. I keep moving up and I can’t let go of the banister, not even for Josie and the Pussycats sitting around Elvis. They try to steer their bodies away from my feet like they do for people going up and down the stairs they’re lounging on but it’s hard for me because of the weird angles they used to build the stairs and my boots are pretty big so I kick a rib or two trying to find a spot where I can safely step and I mash a finger or two because the spot keeps moving but it’s not on purpose because they’re trying to help me because that’s what Josie and the Pussycats and maybe even Elvis do and looking at the Pussycats' naked flesh in upstate New York in the fall doesn’t make it any easier for me to concentrate on my footsteps but I do the best I can and somehow I’m standing in the upstairs hallway and I consider spending the rest of the party up here because thinking of navigating the stairs again is like thinking of my life.
There are plenty of people up here too and plenty of doors and some of them are open but three of them are closed and there’s no line because most of the people on the first floor just piss around the side of the house. I don’t know which of the closed doors is the bathroom so I grab a passing mime to ask him and when he spins around there’s a bullet hole in his forehead and blood dripping down his face and I laugh and I forget what he was going to say and I drink hazelnut and let the mime go and the first door smells like pot and I open it just to pop my head in and scream I’m a Lost Boy! and take a whiff and close the door and the music is muted up here so they heard me and I can hear them laughing from behind the door. The second door is dark and doesn’t smell like anything. The knob turns but the door won’t open so I give a shove and the door inches open and so I shove a little more and the door opens a little more and then an arm shoots out of the dark crack and I scream and the arm pushes me back by the chest and the door slams shut and a male voice tells me to get lost and another guy laughs and a female voice calls me a pervert which makes me think of my crotch with reminds me I need to find the bathroom. It must be the third door but it’s locked. I hear someone talking so I shout hey but no one answers so I knock and say I have to pee and no one answers so I pound on the door and say let me in and the voice stops talking and yells that they’re occupied so I kick the door open and there’s a Witch with her skirt bunched around her waist balled in one fist and her white panties and green tights rolled down to her knees sitting on the toilet and she yells at me to close the door so I tell her I’m sorry and I close the door only I’m inside the bathroom and I’m unzipping my pants and I’m walking toward her and she’s got hairs growing out of the warts on her nose and her white thighs don’t match her green face and her green hands and she’s on a cell phone and she says
Get the hell out of here! Not you, dumbass, the guy who just walked in. Because I’m in the bathroom. Keep your pants on. No, I didn’t call you from the bathroom - what’re you doing? - you called me and I picked up. Yes, I’m sitting on the toilet right now and this drunk piece of. . . don’t take it out! Do you hear me? Do not - get that thing out of my face, I’m sitting here! I don’t know, use the sink or the tub, use the window, it's really not my problem. Yeah, he’s drunk. Well good, then get over here and kick this guy’s ass. You hear that? My boyfriend’s gonna kick your ass when he gets here! (. . .oh, God he’s peeing. . .) I don’t know, big. What am I, a nurse, Victor? How the hell do I know? Like Fred’s size, maybe. No, Fred Savage. Yeah, Fred Parziale, who the hell do you think? Are you fucking kidding me? Watch what you’re doing! This guy almost - Hey! Goddammit, you drunk piece of shit, this hat’s a rental- fuck, fuck, stop it, stop it! Victor, where are you? Shit!
or something like that and then she’s not saying anything into the phone she’s throwing it at me and she’s yelling at me and it’s a really good shot right across the bridge of my nose and my eyes fill with water and I stumble forward and my penis hits something soft and hands are pushing me and through my tears I see my penis has turned green and I start screaming and she’s screaming and something dark and wet hits my face and her hair is hanging wild and her make up is smeared and she has hat head and she jumps off the toilet and she’s slapping me and she tries to kick me but her tights are still wrapped around her thighs and she slips in my piss and falls and I run out and slam the door behind me and I just have time to put my dick away when the knob starts to turn so I grab it and brace myself against the door jamb and there’s screaming and pounding and kicking and Alex from A Clockwork Orange walks over with his three toadies and asks me what up and I tell him nothing and then he asks what I did in there and I tell him nothing and he takes his cane from over his shoulder and rests it against his thigh and he tells me to let go of the door but I tell him there’s a wild animal in there and there’s more screaming and pounding and he tells me to back off so I let go of the knob but nothing happens except for more noise so Alex opens the door and his three thugs kind of surround me but they’re not touching me so I try to back away but they’re not moving either so I zip my pants up and stand still.
I take a swig from the bottle but it’s empty so I hold it to my bare chest.
"His dick touched my face," the Witch yells, pointing at me. The witch yells that I pissed all over her and she’s holding the dripping hat in one hand and they look at me and I shrug and Alex raises the cane this time with real intent and I wonder if he’s on something but I don’t wonder long because the cane is at shoulder height and I have to do something before it gets any higher because if it gets any higher it will swing down and hit me so I toss my empty Frangelico bottle at one of Alex’s droogs and he’s so surprised he tries to catch it and before I can see whether he does and before I can find out if Alex really means to hit me with that cane I plow into him with all of my weight and maybe I overdo it because we’re flying down the hall and we split open a door and end up in a closet and I’m on top of him and I punch him until I can’t see his eyelash because of all the blood and my hand feels nothing so I punch him a few more times and I get up and his droogs are too stunned to move so I buckle my belt and I look at the girl in the bathroom and her mouth is hanging open and I bend over and pick up the cane Alex dropped and everyone in the hallway is staring at me but they’re not looking at my bare skin they’re looking at my face and their eyes are wide like children and I sling the cane over one shoulder and the pot door opens and someone says damn dude and the door closes then Delilah is at the top of stairs looking pissed and asking me what I did what happened and I ask her where Laura is and she looks scared and she doesn’t answer so I thank her for having me over and brush past her and I try to navigate the bodies on the stairs but it’s tricky so I kind of fall-walk and I’m in the dining room and I’m in the kitchen and I need something in my stomach right now or I’m going to puke so I open the fridge and it’s all beer so I pull a drawer and it comes out in my hand and everything spills and there’s a block of cheese so I pick it up and unwrap it and bite the moldy part off and spit it on the floor and I wolf the rest down in four huge bites and it’s disgusting and chalky in my mouth but it feels good and heavy in my stomach and I think I can make it home without being sick so I kick open the screen door and Boy Scout is standing there so I swing the cane and knock his beer out of his hand and he’s yelling and rubbing one hand with the other so I offer him the cane and tell him to take his best shot.
Boy Scout stares at the cane but doesn’t move.
I drop it and take off running around the side of the house because I’m going to be violently sick and even though most people who know me have seen it for some reason maybe because of the holiday I don’t want them to tonight so I force myself to slow down to a fast walk and I think someone is calling my name and I think maybe it’s Laura but I don’t have time to stop and talk to her because I’m going to be sick and I want to be home when it happens. I manage to open the door to my apartment building even though the key and the lock don’t want to connect and I’m running up the stairs and I hear my name and I drop my coat on the stairs and my belt on the landing and I’m in front of my door and somehow I open it and get one boot off and I run down the hall and take my jeans and my underwear off and I try to step out of them but I can’t because I’m still wearing one boot so I drag it all with me to the bathroom and I hit the tile so hard I wonder if I’ve fractured my kneecaps and my face is in the toilet and the edges are cold against my arms and I heave chunks of slightly melted cheese and a torrent of Frangelico and beer and whiskey and bourbon and bile and the buzzer is going like mad someone wanting to get in and I shut my eyes and I heave more and my mouth is forced open wide with it and I hear someone pounding on the door downstairs and I realize I left the door to my apartment open and I heave again and most of it goes up my nose and hangs in burning strings so I blow my nose weakly and I heave and it’s just as violent but there’s less to it but it smells even worse and my stomach clenches weakly a few times and I make some odd hitching noises and I slap at the handle until it flushes my stink away.
It’s a long time or maybe only minutes before Laura is there pulling my hair from my face and the toilet with one hand and stroking my back with the other and telling me it’s okay that everything is going to be okay and I know she’s lying but I let her because it’s going to be a long night.
I walk down the hall from the bathroom. The tile has tattooed its pattern down my hip from dozing over the toilet. Sunlight spears through the curtains of my living room. My bedroom door is closed. I open it and see Laura sleeping in my bed. She always smiles in her sleep. I wonder how we got here.
My head throbs, my stomach feels vile, but there’s no way I can go to bed without a shower. It takes a lot longer than it should for me to remove my other boot and the pants and underwear still clinging to my ankle. I stand under the spray for a long time but the water never gets cold. My right hand hurts. The knuckles are swollen. I wonder if I made new people I need to worry about last night. I have to work tonight at five. I’m exhausted but glad the room isn’t spinning. I tuck myself behind Laura, making spoons. The minute my damp hair hits the pillow I’m drifting. The last thing I hear is Laura telling me we need to talk.
No one ever needs to talk for anything good.